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Tuesday, Mar 31, 2015
With Ephemeral, the Minneapolis group Umami has concocted a mad scientist's stew of synth-pop, dance rock, and a smattering of other sounds.

Ephemeral is a fitting title for the new album by the Minneapolis outfit Umami. Although identifiable pop song structures are featured throughout the LP, the smorgasbord of sounds that Umami brings to the table constantly keep the listener on edge. One idea will suddenly give way to something else entirely without a moment’s notice, foregrounding a psychedelic, more free-form take on synth and electro-pop. Yet for all of the ephemeral moments throughout this Ephemeral LP, there’s a clear core to the songwriting. Contrast is one of the main constants that keeps the experimentation fresh throughout: see the juxtaposition of sharp buzzsaw synths and airy, reverb-laden vocals on “Living in a Nightmare”.


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Tuesday, Mar 31, 2015
As a tie-in to the recent release of the 40th anniversary edition of Physical Graffiti, Led Zeppelin have released an "interactive video" for "Brandy and Coke", the initial rough mix of the classic "Trampled Under Foot".

In my 8 out of 10 PopMatters review of the deluxe reissue of Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti, I wrote, “Released 40 years to the day since its initial release [24 February], this deluxe edition confirms what critics have long said about this… ‘summative’ recording: this is an album that gives a lot, and then keeps on giving.” As it turns out, this principle not only applies to the revered double album itself, but also to the video media that accompanies it. Led Zeppelin have now released a swanky “interactive” video for one of the deluxe edition’s bonus tracks, the “initial rough mix” of “Trampled Under Foot” entitled “Brandy and Coke”. As you watch the video, you can click through the many windows of the iconic building that makes up the record’s sleeve art.


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Tuesday, Mar 31, 2015
Angelic vocal harmonies and a wintry mood make the Staves' "Make It Holy" a stunner of a live track.

Recorded in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, at Justin Vernon’s April Base studio (where he recorded his highly acclaimed second Bon Iver LP), English trio the Staves’ new album, If I Was, is layered with intoxicating vocal harmonies. The influence of Vernon, who produced the record, is more than obvious, especially considering that the Staves have opened for Bon Iver in the past. However, the trio—comprised of sisters Emily (vocals), Jessica (vocals, guitar), and Camilla (vocals, ukulele) Staveley-Taylor—took Vernon’s famed Wisconsin space and made it their own, creating an album of beautiful, contemplative reflection.


Recently, the Staves took to the stage of London’s Wilton’s Music Hall with Vernon, playing through If I Was in its entirety as a lead-in to its stateside release. Below you can watch the trio and Vernon perform the captivating “Make It Holy”.


Tagged as: indie folk
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Tuesday, Mar 31, 2015
by PopMatters Staff
"Rayc Fire 2" is a big beat banger off Squarepusher's upcoming release Damogen Furies, which is the electronic musician's first album since 2012's Ufabulum.

Judging from this track, the new record should be a great one, keeping pace with Squarepusher’s track record of excellent albums.




Damogen Furies releases April 21st via Warp Records.


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Monday, Mar 30, 2015
"Half a Chance" finds the Cuban-Canadian singer/songwriter Alex Cuba joining his smooth brand of songwriting with that of legendary troubadour Ron Sexsmith.

The bilingual, acoustic guitar-led “Half a Chance” is one of the standout cuts from Healer, the new LP by Alex Cuba, the self-described “Spider Man of Latin music”. Like the rest of the album, “Half a Chance” represents the two different perspectives from which Cuba approaches his songwriting: as a Cuban-born immigrant to Canada, his music reflects where he’s been and where he’s come from. Cuban and Latin influences are prevalent in his music, but so too are pop and singer/songwriter tropes from North America. For “Half a Chance”, Cuba is joined by fellow Canadian Ron Sexsmith, who provides some nice harmony vocals in the chorus.


Tagged as: canada, cuba, latin music
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